Friday, October 3, 2014

NJ's NJEA: Tops in Special Interest Spending

My article Government Should Not “Determine Everything” about Education; It Should Determine Nothing about It, has been published by The Objective Standard. Here are the opening paragraphs:

New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission recently released a study on special-interest spending in that’s Matt Friedman reports that, between 1999 and 2013, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the main teachers’ union in the state, spent more money than any other group, accounting for nearly a fifth of “campaign contributions, independent spending and lobbying [of] lawmakers and the executive branch.”

The union defended its political spending, as Friedman reports:

Ginger Gold Schnitzer—the NJEA’s director of government relations—said it’s no surprise that her union tops the list. . . .
“These lawmakers make really important decision[s] for us. So if our members want to have any influence over these aspects of their personal and professional lives, they
have to care a great deal about who holds these positions, and we have to get them information to make good decisions,” Gold Schnitzer said. “They determine everything from (teachers’) salaries, their health benefits and pensions to how many days a year they work, what kind of hours, and what kind of things they spend their time on when they’re working.”

Read the rest here.

I would add that the teachers union isn’t alone, of course. Friedman cites “a wide array of interests”—including private-sector unions, business groups, professional associations, and “ideological” organizations—among the top 25 spenders. Considering that virtually every industry and so much of our personal lives are subject to some degree of government regulation and control, the proliferation of political special interests makes sense. It’s a simple matter of cause and effect. As long as government exercises control over people’s personal and professional lives, whatever the field, people have incentive to influence the controllers “to make good decisions”—to protect themselves against harmful controls and regulations, seek government favors at others’ expense, or a combination of both.

Related Reading:

In Defense of Special Interests - and the Constitution

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